Big Guy Car Guy / Travel

Going Into The Mystic on Nights You Wished Would Never End

Belmond El Encanto throw blanket

The fireplace glows yellow in the corner of the oversized bungalow room, tossing shadows boldly onto whitewashed walls and gently across rich hardwood floorboards, as a future JC Penney model strums an acoustic guitar.

I’m on my back atop the virgin white comforter of a ludicriously comfy king bed constructed, I can only imagine, piece by piece by Earth angels. Nearby, sophisticated women sit slouched in upholstered chairs sipping pinot noir from white ceramic coffee cups.

Van Morrison is suggested and the first chords of “Into the Mystic” float about the room. My eyes are closed and I half mouth-half sing the words as best as I can remember them, in this new cadence as I can best predict it. And then my lips are puckered for the trumpet part, which draws hushed chuckles from the intimate crowd.

Belmond El Encanto KiaSBExp

Between songs from an eclectic setlist of Garth Brooks, George Jones, Billy Joel, Pearl Jam and Travis Tritt, there’s warm applause, soft laughter, words of affirmation, and a sincere appreciation for each others’ company as well as an unspoken love for the car company that brought us together in an oasis of luxury high above Santa Barbara, California.

No photos are taken, no video captured. We are there together in that moment, and that is enough.

These are the kinds of nights you wished would never end but you stupidly scheduled a call at 7am local time and anyway, you cannot keep the sun from waking up and eventually the wine supply will dry up.

It’s approaching 1am on getaway day and I’m the 3rd of the group to force a tired body to rise, give earnest hugs and utter fond farewells. The heavy recognizable strings of “Another One Bites The Dust” are plucked. The thick wood door shuts quietly behind me.

Belmond El Encanto Santa Barbara

It physically hurt to leave these people; my peers, my sea kayaking teammates, my friends, but I’ve long been the good boy who makes sensible decisions. It’s the worst best trait.

As I wobble too quickly down terra cotta steps, past the lemon tree, around the ornate stone fountain, through a horticultural dreamscape of the Belmond El Encanto we 40-something’s had dubbed our ‘Melrose Place’, a slideshow of cheery smiles, fancy dresses, welcoming toasts, plush seats and smart tech in luxurious Kia Cadenza & Optima SXL cars, dolphins playfully leaping along side boats, hopeful conversations, shared adventures, and one giant inflatable eggplant all flash before me.

Belmond El Encanto bungalows

Moments later, my bags are sensibly packed, and I’m snuggled up for the last time beneath my own bungalow room’s white comforter, in my own angelic king bed.

I’m going to see my wife soon, and I don’t know it yet but my daughters will stay up too late to give me all the hugs when I walk through their doors.

As I drift away, in darkness and in absolute silence, I recognize with a small, sleepy smile that I’m as happy and at ease with life as I have been in a very, very long time.

Belmond El Encanto Kia Cadenza luxury

*Kia so kindly included me on this #KiaSBExp trip to Santa Barbara. All expenses and travel were covered. All opinions are my own and accounts of events are honest as I recall them. 

Belmond El Encanto Santa Barbara

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